3 Terrible Places to Put Indoor Plants

Recently I had to make a special trip to one of my accounts to search for a missing indoor plant. With the office manager’s help, we found it tucked away in one of the executive offices.  Somehow the very tall and heavy planter was placed behind his desk, between his printer stand and a bookshelf. After missing two weeks of service, the bottom leaves were dead, brown and slightly curled.  In order to water it, I had to lean over his wide desk covered in documents, while straining to tip the watering can to perfectly aim at the base.  Seeing the dilemma, the office manager helped me balance the water can so I didn’t hit a leaf and funnel water onto the executive’s paperwork, books or printer.  Unfortunately, I did end up getting some flakes of dead leaf debris across the computer keyboard as I pulled handfuls off the stock. As I tried to remove the leaf flakes without hitting any keys, I was glad the executive wasn’t there to witness this and also glad the office manager was there to realize it was a very bad spot for a live plant.

Tight Spots

No matter how careful you are at maintaining plants, we all have occasions when something goes wrong, water gets splashed, dirt gets spilled or accidents happen.  Making sure plants aren’t located over office equipment, someone’s workspace or delicate items like books, pictures or antiques will save you and your technicians regular frustration and possible insurance claims.  

Normally, our plant placement choices don’t start out like this but as companies expand and experience personnel changes, these once good spots can turn into technician nightmares. 

This is a good example why having a contract clause stating clients must not move plants without your consent, as it protects you and the client from potential property loss. 

In office situations, sometimes you can’t completely keep an indoor plant from being near vulnerable workspaces.  In which case, making sure the technician has plenty of space to access the containers or the ability to move the planters to service will help prevent potential accidents.

High Places

It’s a cool look to have plants hanging down from way above like balconies, credenzas or the top of cabinets. I had two such buildings, a mall and an office building where there were live plants that hung over two-story balconies.

This situation wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t a waist high wall of glass separating you from the plants.  In order to maintain or replace foliage, you had to lean over the glass. If that didn’t scare you, making sure you didn’t spill any water on top of the people walking down below was the other challenge.  Although using a lift during non-business hours would be another option, doing this every week wouldn’t be economically feasible. 

Unless a balcony planter can be accessed with open spaces, I avoid these situations.  The same goes for a shelf or cabinet top that would need a ladder for weekly servicing.  Unless you can water or remove the planter using a step stool, I often feel it’s too risky of a spot for routine maintenance.  

HVAC Vents

I often forget to look up at the ceiling when I’m doing a walk-through with a new client. It’s usually damaging for tropical plants to be placed under HVAC vents. The constant flow of hot or cold air hitting leaves can cause stress, dry it out, curl or discolor top foliage and stunt growth.

Besides extreme air temperature harming foliage, plant disease can also move through HVAC systems.  Spider mites can be blown through vents, and then directly down to infect the first plant they come in contact with. They will be really happy if that plant below happens to be a palm or any delicate, paper-like foliage that can easily be eaten.  You will often find the top palm fronds the first to be attacked, especially during cold months when hot air is circulating. 


Interior corners are often a client’s favorite spot for a plant. It keeps a tall plant out of the way, softens the hard edges of a room, and is sometimes the only spot available.  Putting a plant in a corner can block up to fifty percent of available light. Most plants are going to quickly diminish in these areas and lose much of their foliage. Using a hardy variety like the dracaenas will have the best chance of survival.  An overhead light or an up-light that stays on regularly can also help reduce foliage loss.  

Most interior plantscapers do their best to avoid less-than-ideal indoor plant locations. However, if you can’t avoid one of these bad plant locations, adding in higher replacement factors and contract protection clauses can at least help keep your account profitable and worthwhile. What’s the worst location where you’ve had to place plants?

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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